2013-02-06 / Front Page

Feds Probe Worker Death At Astoria Construction Site

By Liz Goff

City and federal investigators are probing the January 24 death of a 45-year-old worker at an Astoria construction site.

The city Department of Buildings (DOB) issued a stop-work order following the incident at the construction site at 46-11 Broadway in Astoria, where the worker Ricardo Gonzalez plunged, head first, into a 15-foot-deep ditch, striking his head on a steel girder.

Gonzalez was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital of Queens, where he died a short while later of injuries he suffered in the fall.

A fire spokesperson said Gonzalez was apparently crossing over the ditch when he lost his balance and plunged, hitting his head on the beam. Investigators at the Department of Buildings are investigation to determine the exact cause of the incident.

Investigators from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) arrived in Astoria after the incident to determine if there are any workplace violations at the site, authorities said.

Construction is underway for the development of a four-story, mixed-use building at the site, DOB records show. A DOB inspector also stopped work at the site in March 2012 after nearby homeowners complained that excavation was causing their homes to sink, agency records show.

The site formerly housed a private home that was abandoned more than 15 years ago, neighbors said.

DOB records show the general contractor, Centex Builders of Astoria, hired Gonzalez to work at the site. Gonzalez was an employee of Abacus Building Innovations of Flushing, authorities said.

“This is a terrible tragedy,” fellow workers said. “Who expects to go to work one day and die?”


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